"They are to make me a sanctuary, so that I may live
ALLEVIATING OTHERS' BURDENS
A literal translation of this passage would read as: "They are to make me a sanctuary that I may live within them." HaShem was not to live in the Ark. The presence of the ark among the people was a sign of HaShem's presence within the people; within the people as a nation, but also as individuals. The Hebrew lends itself to both meanings.
This takes us directly to:
"If you love me, you will keep my commands; and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforting Counselor like me, the Spirit of Truth, to be with you forever. The world cannot receive him, because it neither sees nor knows him. You know him, because he is staying with you and will be united with you. (John 14:15-17 CJB)
Though the Divine Presence, the Shekinah, had already been present with the patriarchs, the promise of the Presence of HaShem's Spirit within the people starts right here with the idea of the Tabernacle.
Maimonides, the famous Jewish physician, one time wrote to his son about the Tabernacle paralleling it the human body. For Maimonides, the holy ark, the innermost part, alludes to the human heart, which is the innermost part of the body.
The ark was the main part of the tabernacle because it contained the tablets of the covenant. So is the human heart the main part of the body. It is the source of life, knowledge and understanding.
The wings of the cherubim allude to the lungs.
The table in the tabernacle alludes to the human stomach. Just as food and drink are placed on the table, so the stomach is filled with food and drink that a person consumes.
The menora in the tabernacle alludes to the human mind. Just as the menora gives forth light, so the intellect enlightens the entire body.
Three stems went out from the menora on each side. These allude to the three limbs that extend from each side of the human body, the eye, the ear, and the hand.
The incense altar alludes to the sense of smell.
The sacrificial altar alludes to the intestines, which digest the food that enters the body.
The veil covering the tabernacle alludes to the diaphragm, which is like a barrier between the parts of the body.
The washstand alludes to the moisture and other liquids in the body.
The goats' wool hangings allude to the skin that covers the human body.
The beams of the tabernacle allude to the ribs.
Maimonides then instructs his son that the parallel between the tabernacle and the human body is to teach us that:
If a person behaves as a good Jew the Divine Presence will rest upon the human being just as it was on the tabernacle.
Of course, to behave like a 'good Jew' has to do with behaving according to the precepts of the Torah. Anyone who behaves according to the precepts of the Torah can claim the Divine Presence upon them, but is simple faithfulness to Torah precepts enough? Paul spoke of: "faithfulness expressing itself through love."(Gal 5:6)
Paul teaches that, "in him [Yeshua], bodily, lives the fullness of all that God is". (Col 2:9 CJB) and prayed for the Ephesians' congregation that, "the treasures of his glory .... will empower you with inner strength by his Spirit, so that the Messiah may live in your hearts through your trusting. Also, I pray that you will be rooted and founded in love, so that you, with all God's people, will be given strength to grasp the breadth, length, height and depth of the Messiah's love, yes, to know it, even though it is beyond all knowing, so that you will be filled with all the fullness of God." (Eph 3:16-19 CJB)
Yeshua teaches us an expression of the Torah through love, love which Paul defines in:
Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not gloat over other people's sins, but takes its delight in the truth. Love always bears up, always trusts, always hopes, always endures. (1Co 13:4-7 CJB)
Maimonides midrashing the Tabernacle as a human body was, unbeknownst to him, (or maybe knowingly), peering into the future when Messiah would come and encapsulate for us in a human body all that being God-like looks like.
Even in its design, the tabernacle teaches us something about a certain area of love. The Torah tells us that,
"They are to make an ark of acacia-wood three-and-three-quarters feet long, two-and-a-quarter feet wide and two-and-a-quarter feet high. You are to overlay it with pure gold -- overlay it both inside and outside -- and put a molding of gold around the top of it. ..." (Exo 25:10-11)
Chizkuni, the Torah commentator,states that the Ark consisted of wood sandwiched between two golden layers. He believes that just like the menora of the Temple, the Ark should really have been entirely of gold. The reason why it was not was that it had to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites when the Children of Israel journeyed in the desert. If the Ark would have been made entirely of gold, it would have been heavier for the people responsible to carry it. Even so, the Holy Ark was made lighter than it might have been to lighten the burden of the Levites who had to carry it. We should learn from this to always try to alleviate the burden of our fellow man.
Even Yeshua, of whom Paul says, "in him [Yeshua], bodily, lives the fullness of all that God is". (Col 2:9 CJB) believes in alleviating people's burdens. He said to the people,
"Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Mat 11:28-30 CJB)
If HaShem, in the form of the Ark and in the teaching of Yeshua, shows us about being careful not to set on people burdens heavier than they can comfortably carry, maybe also should we.
There are many ways we can alleviate people's burdens in our everyday lives.
Making things easy for the waitress (or waiter) at the restaurant or the cashier at the shop.
Making things comfortable for our children and spouses at home.
Helping someone with their shopping, cross the street, ...
Being easily imposed upon;
Not being overbearing in conversation or demands.
Being compliant with the Rabbi when he needs help.
Being more ready to listen than to talk
When visiting, act as the guests we would want to have again
Be the friend that we would want to have as a best friend.
I heard a saying one day: "Home is the place where we are treated the best and grumble the most".
Teenagers sometimes get disillusioned with their parents' service to God. It may seem to them sometimes that their parents have split personalities, one very nice, helpful, and polite to their congregation and friends and one at home. Then they let their 'hair down' and act in a commanding, complaining, and overbearing manner.
The Ark was covered with gold so it looked nice and shiny not only on the outside but also on the inside where no-one could see it. This teaches us that we should be the same 'outside' and 'inside'. The people living with us and who are willing to put up with us at home, actually deserve our best.
Sometimes we may feel grumpy, but the fact that we had a bad day doesn't entitle us to unload on others. They may be themselves overloaded, but are not showing it out of concern to not overburden us!
May we PRACTICE TIKUN OLAM (repairing the world) BY ALLEVIATING OTHER PEOPLE'S BURDENS!
R' Gavriel Lumbroso
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